Offentliggjort den 1. december 2017
Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
When I was asked to open this important conference on the sustainable development goals in the Arctic, I did not hesitate to accept. The Arctic part of the Kingdom of Denmark has always been very close to my heart.
I am deeply passionate about the Arctic – its unique scenery, the distinct culture and not least the wonderful people who live there. While every visit has opened my eyes and heart further to the Arctic, one memory does stand out.
17 years ago, I ventured out on a four month long journey along the coast of North and North East Greenland – one of the most isolated and remote areas in the world. Together with 5 travelling companions and 42 dogs we covered 2,795 km on skis and dog sleighs. For me it was a unique experience, but the expedition is not unique - every year the borders of Greenland are patrolled by such dog sleigh expeditions – It is, despite technology, still the only feasible way to be present in the vast and isolated parts of Greenland.
During my four months of isolation I learned firsthand that you can take nothing for granted. A beautiful and enchanting day can within hours turn into an unforgiving and brutal experience. One thing is for sure, you learn that nature is your master and to survive you must adapt to the environment. The indigenous arctic population, have done so for centuries and I have the deepest respect for their traditional ways and customs.
That is my starting point today when bidding you all a warm welcome to this conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Arctic is changing – and at a rapid pace. The Polar ice cap is melting at a scale that is new to us. The climate is changing, the fish are changing migration patterns, and new shipping routes are opening up. As a result, living conditions for the four million people inhabiting the region are changing.
But with change comes new possibilities, and I believe in a common responsibility to meet the challenges these changes create - and to make the most of it.
At the United Nations, in 2015, the 193 member states recognized this collective responsibility and adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the SDGs. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets provides a blueprint for a global development agenda that will guide us through to 2030.
What is important about the SDGs is that they apply to all of us. To all countries, rich or poor, in Asia or in the Arctic.
I believe the SDGs can provide valuable impetus for a worldwide change for the better.
They set out parameters within which to build a balanced, sustainable future for the World – also for the Arctic region. Balanced, because environmental protection goes hand-in-hand with the right of the Arctic peoples to economic development to secure their – your - livelihoods.
It is the same right that people everywhere else on the planet enjoy. The Arctic peoples are robust and resilient. And like everyone else, they strive for: education, work, family life and safety. And they strive to improve their situation. Achieving this depends on economic development.
My wife, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary, an avid SDG-proponent, has said that the SDGs provide new opportunities for growth. And to truly capitalize on those opportunities, countries must engage in new and innovative partnerships across continents, regions and countries, exploring new business models and new solutions. We cannot continue doing more of the same.
Ladies and gentlemen from governments, civil society and the private sector,
Today you all have the chance to come forward with your thoughts and ideas – helping us move in the right direction together.
I wish you fruitful deliberations.